The Looming Threat of Climate Change

Alejandra Granados, Staff Writer

In November 2018, the US government released the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, an over 1,600 page federal report that includes contributions from thirteen federal agencies. The report is a comprehensive study meant to inform citizens about how we stand as a nation in terms of climate. Furthermore, it explores the impacts our nation could face as a result of climate change by reviewing many of the findings discussed in peer-reviewed scientific research. The US Global Change Research Program is instructed by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to release reports quadrennially in order to “analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use.” The first climate assessment was produced in 2000 under the Clinton administration, but there has been a lot of environmental changes since.

The report focuses on topics such as communities, water, health, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, etc. However, the most prevalent issue is the effect of climate change on the economy. The climate assessment states that we are already beginning to experience the drastic consequences of climate change, which is evident through the extreme weather we’ve encountered throughout the last few years. Extreme weather-related events are on the rise, according to the report, and they are expected to wreak havoc on infrastructure, ecosystems, and the population. The lower class and homeless people are said to be the most at risk as they are already in a vulnerable state and are less prepared for catastrophic events. The report also states that with the rise in air temperatures, comes drought. This change in water abundance is expected to negatively affect power plants which rely on a consistent stream of water to maintain the system at a certain temperature. The National Climate Change Assessment also discusses how agriculture is affected by climate change. The decline in water security and increase in droughts make it difficult to raise crops and livestock. They become more susceptible to disease and farmers risk crop failure along with a loss of income. Because of the shift in food availability, prices are also expected to skyrocket, making it even harder for people to have access to healthy foods. Climate change is a chain reaction that eventually influences every aspect of the world.

The report received a lot of buzz because of its emphasis on the US economy. It highlights how billions of dollars will be lost due to poor production, unemployment, and a decline in tourism. Corn production is expected to decline by 75% by 2100 as a result of high temperatures. Additionally, Phoenix, Arizona is estimated to have a total of 150 days out of the year with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Over one trillion dollars worth of real estate in coastal areas are also at risk, which can be attributed to rising sea levels in many areas. Contaminated air from vehicles, factories, and smoke from the increasing numbers of wildfires threaten the health of the entire population along with heat waves, producing a surge in deaths and hospitalizations. Furthermore, warming seas will disrupt sea life and fisheries, depriving many of jobs, money, and food. Algal blooms are also a product of rising sea temperatures and can kill even more marine animals. In July and August, harmful algal blooms spread in bodies of water across southern Florida. At one point, 90% of Lake Okeechobee was covered in the bacteria which resulted in the death of large amounts of wildlife and wrecked the aquatic ecosystem. Many of the dead marine animals wash onto shores and begin to decompose which reduces tourism in cities, resulting in additional money lost. As the devastating consequences of climate change become more apparent, more people are calling on the government to take drastic measures and are modifying their own actions in order to protect Earth.



Easy Ways You Can be Environmentally Mindful

  1. Replace single-use cups and cutlery, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and straws with reusable options. Eliminate your overall waste by opting out on receipts or choosing the electronic option, skip on coffee cup sleeves, and ditch disposable cups and plates.
  2. Reduce your household energy use by making sure to turn off all appliances and lights when they are not needed. Avoid using air conditioning and heaters whenever possible.
  3. Choose to eat locally and avoid large supermarkets in order to reduce fossil fuels burned during transportation.
  4. Recycle! Anything from plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, paper, metal cans, and glass products can be thrown in the recycling bin. Even electronics can be recycled at stores like Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples.
  5. Fast fashion only leads to more waste, so donate or resell clothing you don’t wear anymore, and shop at thrift stores. Look for fair-trade logos or stickers on products to ensure that you are purchasing items manufactured through sustainable methods.